Land Borders

Indian Border Issues and Management: 

Securing the country’s borders against interests hostile to the country and putting in place systems that are able to interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce are among the principal objectives of border management. Proper management of borders, which is vital to the national security, presents many challenges and includes coordination and concerted action by the administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure the frontiers and to serve its best interests.

The Department of Border Management was created in the Ministry of Home Affairs in January, 2004 to devote focussed attention to the issues relating to the management of the international land & coastal borders, strengthening of border policing & guarding, creation of infrastructure such as roads, fencing and flood lighting of the borders, development of Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and implementation of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP).

Deployment of forces along the borders is based on the principle of ‘One border, One Border – Guarding Force’ (BGF). Accordingly, domination of each border has been entrusted to a particular border guarding force as under:-

• Bangladesh and Pakistan borders » Border Security Force (BSF)

• China border                                 » Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

• Nepal and Bhutan borders            » Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) 

• Myanmar border                           » Assam Rifles

• Besides: Indian army is guarding land borders along the LOC on Pakistan border along with BSF and Line of Actual Control (LAC) on China border along with ITBP.

Indian Navy is responsible for overall maritime security which includes coastal and offshore security. Indian Coast Guard has been additionally designated as authority responsible for coastal security in India’s territorial waters including areas to be patrolled by the Coastal Police.


Source: CIA

The line, which delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon. In 1913, the British India government had called a tripartite conference, in which the boundary between India and Tibet was formalized after a discussion between the Indian and the Tibetans. A Convention was adopted, which resulted in the delimitation of the IndoTibetan boundary. This boundary is, however, disputed by China which terms it as illegal. It is interesting that in same agreement, boundary upto Myanmar was settled, and China accepts Mac Mohan line with Myanmar. India and China had never shared a common boundary till; China “liberated” or occupied Tibet in 1950. It was then that the hitherto India Tibet boundary was transformed into an India China boundary.

Since 1954, China started claiming large tracts of territory along the entire border such as Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir, some areas in Uttrakhand and the entire Arunachal Pradesh. In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is a military held line.

The rapprochement between the two countries in 1976 enabled India and China to initiate High Level border talks in 1981 to find a solution to the vexed problem. After eight rounds, the talks broke down in 1987. In 1988, following Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to look into the border problem. In 1993, the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of  Actual Control (LAC) was signed and the India China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers was set up to assist the JWG.

In 1996, the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was signed. In 2003, two special representatives (one each from India and China) were appointed to find a political solution to the border dispute. Till 2009, these two special representatives had held 17 rounds of talks, but it seems they have not made much headway. Recently, NSA Ajit Doval was appointed as Special Envoy for talks.

There are three stages of negotiation:

  • Agreeing to guiding principles to be followed – this is done 
  • Recognizing Boundary and area – evolving consensus – this is toughest one and process is struck here
  • Demarcation of boundaries

To redress the situation arising out of lack of infrastructure along the Indo- China border and for effective movement of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the border guarding force for this border, the Ministry of Home Affairs has undertaken the construction of roads along the Indo-China border in the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. 32 Battalions of Indo- Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have been deployed as Border Guarding Force for Indo- China Border.

Line of Actual Control (LAC):

The LAC, starting from northwest of the Karakoram pass and ending at Arunachal Pradesh, has not been demarcated and is virtually passed on by word of mouth. This has led to differing perceptions regarding the alignment, with China making territorial claims in at least eight areas.

  • These are those areas where regular incursions and face-offs take place. They include –
    1. Asaphila, Longju, Namka Chu, Sumdorong Chu, and Yangste in Arunachal Pradesh,
    2. Barahoti in Uttarakhand, and
    1. Aksai China and Demchok in Ladakh.
  • Even areas along the banks of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh, where a clash between Indian and Chinese troops took place on August 15, are under dispute. The LAC passes through the lake, but India and China do not agree on its exact location. The mountains sloping on the banks of the lake form finger-like structures.

What needs to be done?

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) has to be properly demarcated and simultaneously confidence building measures (CBMs) have to be conducted, military experts said. More points of contact, including regular meetings and setting up of a hotline between the two militaries, have to be created to prevent future transgressions, incursions and face-offs.

Army, PLA in a tug of war over Doklam Plateau(June 2017) 

At the heart of the border dispute between India and China is a road being built by China in Doklam, where it has a territorial dispute with Bhutan. Beijing has accused India of having a “hidden agenda” hinting that New Delhi is trying to stop it from building the road on Bhutan’s behalf. Bhutan has lodged a formal protest asking China to stop work on the road.

Doklam dispute:

Doklam, also called Donglang, is under Chinese control, but is also claimed by Bhutan. It is located at a tri-junction of India, Tibet and Bhutan and is close to the Nathu La pass, through which China has blocked this year’s Kailash Mansoravar yatra or pilgrimage over the border tension with India.

  • Doklam is disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained in the area.
  • The disputed area also provides, according to India perspective, a bigger buffer to its sensitive Chicken’s Neck, or the Siliguri Corridor, which is an extremely narrow stretch of land that connects the north-eastern region to the rest of India. From the Chumbi Valley it is just a little over 100 kilometres away.

Significance of this territory:

The Doklam Plateau, north of the tri-junction between Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet by Indian claim, is not just a disputed area, but has huge strategic significance for both India and China.

  • For Chinese to reach the China-Bhutan border posts, Doklam provides an easy way to construct their road, and they have been trying to do so and India has consistently objected to it. Not very far from Doklam is the strategically important Chumbi Valley in the Tibetan region, to which Chinese are now planning to expand their rail connectivity.


India and Pakistan have long been at odds with each other, having engaged in several wars, conflicts, and military standoffs. The roots of the continued tension are complex, but have centered mainly around the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. After the 1947 Partition of India, the newly-formed independent states of Pakistan and India squabbled over it, which led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948 and a subsequent sharing of the state. The settlement was non-agreeable to both the parties and since then this has become a never ending process.

The Radcliffe Line was the boundary demarcation line between the Indian and Pakistani portions of the Punjab and Bengal provinces of British India. It was named after its architect, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who, as the joint chairman of the two boundary commissions for the two provinces.

The Indo-Pakistan border has varied terrain and distinct geographical features. This border is characterized by attempts of infiltration by the terrorists and smuggling of the arms, ammunition and contraband; LoC being the most active and live portion of the border.

Composite BOPs will provide the entire necessary infrastructure for the accommodation, logistic support and the combat functions of the BSF troops deployed on the Indo-Pakistan borders.Coastal BOPs along Indo- Pakistan Border has also been sanctioned.

Fence & Floodlighting along Indo-Pakistan Border has also been sanctioned.

Line of Control:
The term Line of Control (LoC) refers to the military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir—a line which does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary but serves as the de facto border. Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was redesignated as the "Line of Control" following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972. The part of the former princely state that is under Indian control is known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani-controlled part is divided into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan. The northernmost point of the Line of Control is known as NJ9842. The India–Pakistan border continues from the southernmost point on the LoC.

Siachin Glaciar dispute:

  • Operation Meghdoot the code-name for an Indian Armed Forces operation, was launched 33 years ago on April 13th,1984, when Pakistan started permitting mountaineering expeditions into Siachen Glacier because of which India had to keep a close watch on Siachen.
  • The operation was launched to capture the Siachen Glacier in the Jammu and Kashmir. The military action resulted in gaining control over the world’s highest battlefield.
  • Siachen Glacier is 76.4 km long and covers about 10,000 sq km uninhabited terrain. It lies in the Karakoram Range in the North West India.
  • Actual ground position line (AGPL), which is 110 km long and extends from NJ 9842 to Indira Col in the North (Siachin Glacier).

What is Sir Creek?

Sir Creek is a 96-km strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. Originally named Ban Ganga, Sir Creek is named after a British representative. The Creek opens up in the Arabian Sea and roughly divides the Kutch region of Gujarat from the Sindh Province of Pakistan.

What’s the dispute?

The dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh. Before India’s independence, the provincial region was a part of the Bombay Presidency of British India. But after India’s independence in 1947, Sindh became a part of Pakistan while Kutch remained a part of India.

Pakistan claims the entire creek as per paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Bombay Government Resolution of 1914 signed between then the Government of Sindh and Rao Maharaj of Kutch. The resolution, which demarcated the boundaries between the two territories, included the creek as part of Sindh, thus setting the boundary as the eastern flank of the creek popularly known as Green Line. But India claims that the boundary lies mid-channel as depicted in another map drawn in 1925, and implemented by the installation of mid-channel pillars back in 1924.

What’s the importance of Sir Creek?

Apart from strategic location, Sir Creek’s core importance is fishing resources. Sir Creek is considered to be among the largest fishing grounds in Asia.

Another vital reason for two countries locking horns over this creek is the possible presence of great oil and gas concentration under the sea, which are currently unexploited thanks to the impending deadlock on the issue.

Issues involved:

  • Despite of fencing smuggling, mainly of Heroine is rampant at border of Punjab. It happens because villagers at both sides of border are accomplice to such activities. Further, Involvement of Local politicians is also there in these cases.
  • Apart from this, antiIndia Jihadist Groups are in collusion with Pakistan Armed forces who constantly tries to push terrorists to Indian Side of LOC.
  • Integrated Check Post at Attari remains pretty busy for trade and this is only venue for cross border trade with Pakistan.
  • The double row fencing on the LoC is meant to keep out militants, separatists, smugglers and other infiltrators, and for this purpose, it has been electrified, connected to a range of sensors and strewn with landmines. The entire border is also lit up with strong floodlights installed on more than 50,000 poles. As a result, the IndoPak border can actually be seen from space at night.


The entire stretch consists of plains, riverine belts, hills & jungles. The area is heavily populated and is cultivated right upto the border.Border was drawn by the Bengal Boundary Commission chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe.Instead of following natural barriers, it meanders through villages, agricultural lands, and rivers, rendering the border extremely porous with many disputed pockets. Undemarcated stretches, existence of enclaves (chhitmohols), and adverse possessions had been causing constant friction between the border guarding forces of India and Bangladesh.

In 1974, 3 years after liberation of Bangladesh that the Indira Mujibur Agreement laid down the methods for demarcating various disputed stretches of the India Bangladesh boundary. This also called ‘Land Boundary Agreement’ and, India and Bangladesh, both the countries committed to exchange the enclaves and cede the adverse possessions.

There were 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 enclaves of Bangladesh in India. India did not have access to these enclaves in Bangladesh, and hence, no administrative setup to provide facilities like police stations, courts, schools, roads, hospitals, banks, markets, etc. to their residents could be established there. It was only in 2014 that bill ratifying Indira Mujibur or ‘land boundary agreement’ was passed in Indian Parliament.

Issues with this border

Illegal Immigration – There were both push and pull factors working on this border. Under development, religious persecution, environmental concerns etc. pushed Bangladeshis into India, while India’s huge economy and accommodative society pulled immigrants. According to ‘Task Force on Border management, 2001′, there are about 15 million Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in India, increasing at rate of 3 lakh per month. Recent eruption of communal violence in Assam has direct link with this immigration.

Cattle and other Smuggling – It big unique problem with this border. It is said that if India restricts this supply then it can starve Bangladeshis of food. Cattle from as far as Haryana, UP, Bihar is taken to borders for grazing and then smuggled to Bangladesh. Bangladesh also imposes custom duty on these imports. Cattle confiscated on border alone are around one lakh annually. This way government is losing revenue of around 10000 crore annually.

Along with cattle, smuggling of arms, and other essential items such as sugar, salt and diesel, human and narcotics trafficking, counterfeit Indian currency, kidnapping, and thefts are quite rampant along the India–Bangladesh border.

Bases of Anti India elements: Presently, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) as well as several other insurgent outfits from the Northeast have bases in the Chittagong, Khagrachari, and Sylhet districts of Bangladesh. Incumbent government has to much extent curtailed activity in these bases.

Border Trade: Along the IndiaBangladesh border, there are 32 land custom stations spread over.

Integrated Check Posts: There are several designated entry and exit points on the international borders of the  country through which cross border movement of persons, goods and traffic takes place. Conventional infrastructure for discharge of various sovereign functions at these points is neither adequate or integrated nor coordinated and no single agency is responsible for coordination of various Government functions and services at these points. These functions include those of security, immigration, customs, human, plant and animal quarantine etc., as also the provision of support facilities for both the Government personnel and theimmigrants such as warehousing, parking etc.

Border Out Posts (BOPs) are the main workstation of the BSF along the borders. These are self - contained defence out-posts with a specified area of responsibility established along the entire continuum of land borders to deter trans-border criminals, infiltrators and the hostile elements from indulging in the activities of intrusion/ encroachment and border violations.

Fencing- In order to curb the infiltration, smuggling and other anti-national activities from across the porous Indo-Bangladesh Border and to the checking of illegal cross border activities and illegal migration the Government of India had sanctioned the construction of border fencing with floodlights covered by Technological Solution.

Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS)- where physical fence is not feasible with non-physical barriers in the form of Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS). CIBMS includes integration of manpower, sensors, networks, intelligence and Command & Control Solutions to improve situational awareness at different levels of hierarchy to facilitate prompt and informed decision making and quick response to emerging situations.

Roads: In order to have better communication and operational mobility of BSF in border areas, border roads have been constructed. 


Frontiers of British India and Myanmar came together first time in 1826 after British won 1st Anglo Burmese war. After Independence, The boundary was demarcated in 1967 under an agreement signed by both countries. There were many border agreements between these two years in which borders were fluctuating and this has created confusion.

The internal dynamics of the region in terms of the clan loyalties of the tribal people, intertribal clashes, insurgency, and transborder ethnic ties also adversely affect the security of the border areas. Close ethnic ties among the tribes such as Nagas, Kukis, Chin, etc., who live astride the border help these insurgents in finding safe haven in Myanmar. These crossborder ethnic ties have facilitated in creation of safe havens for various northeast insurgent groups in Myanmar.

The location of the boundary at the edge of the “Drugs golden triangle” facilitates the unrestricted illegal flows of drugs into Indian territory.The bulk of heroin enters India through the border town of Moreh in Manipur.

The Assam Rifles is guarding the Indo-Myanmar Border. Out of 1643 km, demarcation of 1472 km has been completed. There are two undemarcated portions along Indo-Myanmar border:

(i) Lohit sub-sector of Arunachal Pradesh – 136 km.

(ii) Kabaw valley in Manipur                        – 35 km.

There is a Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) between India and Myanmar to examine/discuss all boundary related issues in a comprehensive manner. The mandate of JBWG include discussion on settlement of unsettled Boundary Pillars (BPs) in Manipur Sector, construction within 10 meter ‘No Construction Zone’, demarcation of boundary beyond BP 186 in Arunachal Pradesh Sector and any other related issues as mutually agreed upon between the two sides.

A Free Movement Regime (FMR) exists between India and Myanmar. Under the FMR, every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar and who is resident of any area within 16 km on either side of Indo-Myanmar Border (IMB) can cross the IMB on production of a border pass with one year validity, issued by a Competent Authority. Citizen of Myanmar can move into the area in India which is within 16 km from India-Myanmar Border and can stay up to two weeks per visit.

Indo- Nepal:

India and Nepal have shared an open border since 1950. The conception of such a border can be found in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship that the two countries signed that year.

The main challenges  are to check misuse of open border by the terrorists and criminals for illegal and antinational activities and to improve the security along this border. 34 battalions of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) have been deployed as the Border Guarding Force (BGF) on this border.

An institutionalised mechanism in the form of Home Secretary-level talks and Joint Working Group at the level of Joint Secretaries has been constituted. Border District Coordination Committees at the level of district officials of the two countries are also functional. These mechanisms serve as platforms for discussing the issues of mutual concern such as containing cross border crimes, smuggling, situations arising out of terrorist activities, at the national and regional/ local levels.


The boundary is demarcated except along the trijunction with China. The process of demarcation of the India Bhutan border started in 1961 and was completed in 2006.

The border was peaceful till Indian insurgent groups established camps in the southern districts of Bhutan. This problem has been effectively dealt with during the Bhutanese government’s ‘Operation All Clear’, which saw the destruction and uprooting of all insurgent camps in Bhutanese territory. 

Chinese made goods, Bhutanese cannabis, liquor and forest products are major items smuggled into India. Livestock, grocery items and fruits are smuggled out of India to Bhutan.

To improve the security environment along Indo-Bhutan border measuring 699 km, Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) has been deployed as the Border Guarding Force.

A bilateral mechanism in the shape of a Secretary level India-Bhutan Group on Border Management and Security has proved to be very useful in assessing threat perceptions of the two countries from elements attempting to take advantage of this open border and in discussing ways of improving the security environment along the border areas. The Government of India has approved construction of 313 km.

Measures for efficient Border Management:


At the moment, BSF is working on a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) which will be deployed along the International Border with Pakistan. CIBMS is expected to counter-infiltration and cross-border terror attacks. The system employs latest technology which would detect infiltration via land, underwater, air and tunnels.

The concept of CIBMS is the integration of manpower, sensors and command and control to improve situational awareness and facilitate quick response to emerging situations. Among major components of CIBMS is the ‘virtual fence’. The second component is the command and control, which will help in optimum use of resources for border management. Another component is power management to keep CIBMS running.

The government has given its nod to the ‘Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System‘ (CIBMS) for 24x7x365 surveillance of the border through technology. It is a five-layer elaborate plan to completely stop infiltration on the 2,900-km western border with Pakistan.It entails round-the-clock surveillance through sophisticated technology which in effect will totally “lock” India’s western border to prevent Pathankot-like terror attacks and smuggling.

Five layers include:

  1. CCTV cameras.
  2. Thermal image and night-vision devices.
  3. Battlefield surveillance radar.
  4. Underground monitoring sensors.
  5. Laser barriers


  • The integrated set-up will ensure that if one device doesn’t work, another will alert the control room in case of a transgression. Laser barriers will cover 130 unfenced sections including riverine and mountain terrain from Jammu & Kashmir to Gujarat — often used by the infiltrators.
  • The new plan would also help security forces catch those who help in infiltration from the Indian side of the border, as the radars would have a 360-degree coverage and the cameras would work day and-night looking on both sides.
  • Interestingly, it is also the first time since Independence that India will completely lock its western border.

Security challenges on coasts:

India’s long coastline presents a variety of security challenges including illegal landing of arms and explosives at isolated spots on the coast, infiltration/ex- filtration of anti-national elements, use of the sea and off shore islands for criminal activities, smuggling of consumer and intermediate goods through sea routes etc. Absence of physical barriers on the coast and presence of vital industrial and defence installations near the coast also enhance the vulnerability of the coasts to illegal cross border activities.

Way ahead:

Smart borders on one hand should allow seamless movement of authorized people and goods, while on the other, minimise cross-border security challenges using innovation and technology enablement. Over the long term, smart border management will also have to incorporate systems that digitally monitor patterns of activity through and around border areas to root out organised crime and anti-national events.

There is also a need to revisit the policies on border management to ensure that the frontier regions grow in step with the rest of the country.

Border Area Development Program (BADP): 

The Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs is implementing the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) through the State Governments as a part of comprehensive approach to border management. The aim of BADP is to meet special developmental needs and well being of the people living in the remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international borders and to provide essential infrastructure through convergence of the Central/State/BADP/Local schemes through participatory approach.

The BADP is Core Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS)The funding pattern of BADP (like other Core CSSs), in respect of 8 North Eastern States (viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura) & 3 Himalayan States (viz. Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Uttarakhand) is in the ratio 90:10 (Centre Share: State Share) and in respect of 6 other States (viz. Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) the ratio is 60:40.

Funds are provided to the States for execution of projects relating to infrastructure, livelihood, education, health, agriculture and allied sectors etc.


The programme covers all the villages which are located within 0-10 km distance of the International Border. The works/ projects undertaken under the BADP relate to construction of roads, bridges, safe drinking water supply, health, agriculture and allied activities, social sector activities such as creation of social infrastructure, capacity building and skill development, construction of toilets particularly for women, education, sports activities, promotion of rural tourism/border tourism, etc.

Funding pattern under BADP:

As per the BADP guidelines (June,2015), annual budgetary allocation is divided into two components- viz. 

(i) 40% of total allocation is for the eight North-Eastern (NE) States (including Sikkim); and 

(ii) Remaining 60% of total allocation is distributed among the 9 States having international land border. 

Funds are allocated to States on the basis of-

(i) Length of international border 

(ii) Population of the border blocks 

(iii) Area of the border blocks and 15% weightage is given to hilly, desert and Rann of Kutch areas.

Last modified: Sunday, 10 November 2019, 9:40 PM